What Is A Wound?

Example Of A Wound CliniMed

A wound may be described in many ways; by its aetiology, anatomical location, by whether it is acute or chronic1, by the method of closure, by its presenting symptoms or indeed by the appearance of the predominant tissue types in the wound bed. All definitions serve a critical purpose in the assessment and appropriate management of the wound through to symptom resolution or, if viable, healing.

What is the definition of a wound?

A wound by true definition is a breakdown in the protective function of the skin; the loss of continuity of epithelium, with or without loss of underlying connective tissue (i.e. muscle, bone, nerves)2 following injury to the skin or underlying tissues/ organs caused by surgery, a blow, a cut, chemicals, heat/ cold, friction/ shear force, pressure or as a result of disease, such as leg ulcers or carcinomas3.

How do wounds heal?

Wounds heal by primary intention or secondary intention depending upon whether the wound may be closed with sutures or left to repair, whereby damaged tissue is restored by the formation of connective tissue and re-growth of epithelium4.


  1. Enoch S and Price P (2004) Cellular, molecular and biochemical differences in the pathophysiology of healing between acute wounds, chronic wounds and wounds in the aged. Worldwidewounds.
  2. Leaper DJ and Harding KG. (1998) Wounds: Biology and Management. Oxford University Press.
  3. Hutchinson J (1992). The Wound Programme. Centre for Medical Education: Dundee.
  4. Cooper P. (2005) A review of different wound types and their principles of management in Wound Healing: A systematic approach to advanced wound healing and management. Cromwell Press, UK

Caveat: The information given is a guide only and should not replace clinical judgement.

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